On Sep 15th, Dean Nicholson sent me this report after viewing a pipit at the "Spray Irrigation Ponds" (which I assume is the same area where the White-rumps Sandpipers were seen earlier this summer). This is just off Hwy 3 after making the turnoff to Fernie just east of Cranbrook.
"Alongside the northern pond is a service road that grows in with a variety
of weeds. The area is full of sparrows throughout the breeding season, more
so now as they feed on seeds and grasshoppers. I was walking along the road
observing the birds as they flew up. Savannah Sparrows are most common,
with White-Crowned, Song, Dark-eyed Juncos, Yellow-rumped Warblers and the
odd other bird thrown in. Yesterday there were also about 6 American Pipits
in the area, although not directly where this bird was observed.
The weeds can be very thick once off the road, and moderately thick on the
road (it is not driven on much). The Sprague's Pipit flew up from a less
thick patch on the road and quickly dove down onto some barer ground about
10m away. It hunkered down behind a small weed. Even though I saw exactly
where it dropped I was surprised that it took me 10 seconds to relocate it
with my binos, it was so still. This is not the way American Pipits seem to
react, which is to fly up and circle around calling. The bird remained
frozen for about 30 sec and then stood up in a more alert position. It did
not move away while I observed it. It was not in the company of other
birds. Certainly not with the American Pipits which were elsewhere.
When I saw it my first thought was "That seems different, more like a
Sprague's Pipit". The bird had had streaking on its upper breast only, with
a pale belly and vent. It had a pronounced buffy malar stripe and an
obvious white eye ring. The crown had fine streaking. Overall the face was
quite pale. There were two white/pale wing bars. The legs were decidely
pinkish, not dark. The outer tail feathers were white, quite noticably so.
The impression was of a slim, long pale pipit without the typical
non-breeding colouration of an American Pipit.
I saw the bird in great late afternoon light.
I went back out this afternoon with a camera but couldn't find the bird."